Early Readmission of Elderly Patients With Congestive Heart Failure

Janice M. Vinson, Michael W. Rich, Jane C. Sperry, Atul S. Shah, Timothy McNamara

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631 Scopus citations


Repetitive hospitalizations are a major health problem in elderly patients with chronic disease, accounting for up to one fourth of all inpatient Medicare expenditures. Congestive heart failure, one of the most common indications for hospitalization in the elderly, is also associated with a high incidence of early rehospitalization, but variables identifying patients at increased risk and an analysis of potentially remediable factors contributing to read‐mission have not previously been reported. We prospectively evaluated 161 patients 70 years or older that had been hospitalized with documented congestive heart failure. Hospital mortality was 13% (n = 21). Among patients discharged alive, 66 (47%) were readmitted within 90 days. Recurrent heart failure was the most common cause for readmission, occurring in 38 patients (57%). Other cardiac disorders accounted for five readmissions (8%), and noncardiac illness led to read‐mission in 21 cases (32%). Factors predictive of an increased probability of readmission included a prior history of heart failure, four or more admissions within the preceding 8 years, and heart failure precipitated by an acute myocardial infarction or uncontrolled hypertension (all P < .05). Using subjective criteria, 25 first readmissions (38%) were judged possibly preventable, and 10 (15%) were judged probably preventable. Factors contributing to preventable readmissions included noncompliance with medications (15%) or diet (18%), inadequate discharge planning (15%) or follow‐up (20%), failed social support system (21%), and failure to seek medical attention promptly when symptoms recurred (20%). Thus, early rehospitalization in elderly patients with congestive heart failure may be preventable in up to 50% of cases, identification of high risk patients is possible shortly after admission, and further study of nonpharmacologic interventions designed to reduce readmission frequency is justified. 1990 The American Geriatrics Society

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1290-1295
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1990


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